Canfield BHP Alum Cybil Zhang Discusses Her Career in Social Impact

For students who are passionate about social impact, Canfield BHP alum Cybil Zhang is a living example that it’s possible to turn your passion into a career. After graduating from UT in 2014 with degrees in Canfield Business Honors and Supply Chain Management, Cybil has had a host of experiences in her career.

Currently, Cybil works as the Social Impact and Strategy Senior Manager at Bumble, but she didn’t start working at Bumble right after earning her undergraduate degree. In fact, she started her post-UT journey working as a consultant.

“I started at Oliver Wyman and was in management consulting,” she said. “At the time, I think I was one of two people from UT who were hired there because they previously mainly recruited at Ivy League schools.”

Although she started her career in consulting, social impact work had always had a place in Cybil’s heart. Part of the allure of Oliver Wyman was that it provided her the opportunity to pursue a social impact fellowship in Zambia.

“I was interested in social impact and social enterprises, but I didn’t know what I would do with it, so I went into consulting, which is a very common decision,” she said. “But I didn’t want to lose sight of what I wanted to do longterm, so part of the appeal was actually the fact that people would leave consulting frequently. For me, that was a reminder to reassess what I wanted to do every couple of years. Beyond that, Oliver Wyman had a nonprofit fellowship program and I took advantage of that. I ended up going to is Zambia for about four months to do a volunteer consulting gig.”

The social impact fellowship was with TechnoServe, a firm that focuses on applying business solutions to poverty-stricken communities. After working in Zambia, Cybil applied for a grant with a friend and launched a solar light pilot in Southern Africa.

“We were primarily in Botswana and in South Africa for six to eight months,” she said. “That was a totally different kind of experience– much less consulting style on much more of an entrepreneurial journey and I loved it.”

When she came back to the United States, Cybil began looking for a new job and landed a position at Bumble, where she currently works as the Social Impact and Strategy Senior Manager. Cybil says her position is best described as a chief of staff to the Bumble COO. 

“I came back to the U.S. and that’s when I joined Bumble, which was like the perfect mix for me– working for a company that is unapologetically mission-oriented and getting to have a dedicated part of my role focused on building (the social impact side) out was really exciting,” she said. “I help focus our giving so that it is connected to our product, our users, and our brand. (I) also help create longterm partnerships, because we want to be able to use our brand to add value to our partners and we can do so much more than just give dollars.”

While Cybil loves her current job, she had no idea she’d end up in her current position when graduating from UT. Her advice for students who might not know what they want to do in their career is to keep passions closeby. 

“Not knowing (where to go in your career) is common. Even now, if you were to ask me, ‘how do you have a social impact career or what does that look like for you next?’ I honestly don’t know. I just think it’s super important to keep it as a part of your life in some capacity, even if it’s not your full-time job. In the example I had with consulting, I always knew I would do this nonprofit fellowship, and it led me to where I am now” she said. “Don’t forget about what you really care about and or become disconnected from your passion. Keeping it close is so important.”

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